It wasn’t pretty, and it sure didn’t look that way, but Joel Scherben will take the two points nonetheless.
Matt Dias, Matt Caria and Kris Hogg each scored twice on Friday night and the LU defence held off a hard-charging Windsor (7-8-3) offensive, as the Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s hockey team hung on for a wild 8-6 win in front of 2,824 fans at Fort William Gardens.
“Winning ugly is right,” said a frustrated Scherban, whose team has given up at least six goals in three straight outings, as many times as it happened all of last season. “We’re happy to get the win, we need the two points, but we’re not happy with the way we got the win.”
As the promise of the second half starts to fade away, the first-year coach said his team can’t afford efforts like Friday night’s which saw them out-shot 52-34 and a bad bounce or two from a third straight defeat, against a team that’s struggling just to put itself in a playoff position. The games are only going to get harder from here on in, Scherban said.
“Shots (against) are a concern, but that’s a result of the way we played. Other teams in the league are elevating their game and their intensity right now. And we didn’t seem to do that again,” said Scherban, who was missing several key players, including an injured Brock McPherson (ankle), healthy scratch Dan Speer and defencemen Kalvin Sagert and Mitch Maunu, both suspended.
On a team full of guys who know what winning’s all about, Scherban isn’t sure why they can’t seem to put it all together in 2009-10.
“It’s frustrating, because they’re showing signs. We played two pretty decent, complete (exhibition) games against Manitoba. It just comes from within. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve made some adjustments to the lineup lately and guys just aren’t comfortable with their chemistry. It’s just simple. The turnovers we’re making and those mistakes just have to be cut out and that comes from within each player.”
Dias, one of the aforementioned newcomers, said it wasn’t the performance they were hoping for, coming off a pair of road losses to Western last weekend.
“We were expecting a better effort tonight, especially against a team who has struggled. But we pulled it out and hopefully we can just build off that. A win’s a win,” said the Sault Ste. Marie native.
It wasn’t entirely a case of poor play on the Thunderwolves part, the rookie forward added.
“Yes and no. We had a couple of breakdowns and they capitalized. You give bad teams opportunities, or even good teams, they’re going to make you pay. And they made us pay on the couple of opportunities we gave them,” Dias said.
Their first mistake was while on the power play, 5:34 into the contest, when Windsor’s Matt Thorburn stole the puck and popped a shorthanded marker past Kyle Moir in the LU net. But 27 seconds later Dias brought the Wolves back to even ground, roofing a backhander on a penalty shot, a power play goal nonetheless.
Pierre-Marc Guilbault gave the Wolves their first lead at 12:57, rifling a slapshot from the point that stayed low and fooled Jim Watt in the Windsor net. Matt McCready tied it up two minutes later, but Dias gave the Wolves (11-5-2) the lead for good with less than three minutes to go in the period.
The second stanza started slow, but finished in a flurry, with four goals in the final 144 seconds, two by Caria to put the Wolves up 5-2 and one by Andrew Wilkins with under a minute to play that extended the lead to four.
But Danny Anger beat Moir with 14 seconds to play in the period and then Thunder Bay’s Kyle Tront and Kyhle Nishizaki netted goals before the final frame was two minutes old, and the lead was cut to 6-5.
“We know we’re not as skilled as they are, so we just have to work hard and no matter what the score is we are going to work hard,” Tront said. “We ended up burying a couple of chances that we didn’t bury in the second period and it worked out that way.”
Hogg restored a two-goal lead at the 15:36 mark, and did it again into the open net, after Kyle Lang had pulled the Lancers to within one again with less than four minutes to go.
Claw marks: Lakehead goalie Alex Dupuis is also on the mend. Third stringer Jason Jaundoo was called upon to back up Moir. Also out were forwards Adam Sergerie and Andy Hyvarinen ... Western coach Clarke Singer was denied his 250th university hockey victory on Friday, as the Mustangs were upset 6-4 by the University of Onatario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks. In other action Laurier doubled Brock 4-2, Ottawa edged Concordia 4-3 in a shootout, Queen’s got by Nipissing 5-2, Toronto handled Ryerson 7-3 and McGill knocked off UQTR 2-1 ... Lakehead forward Scott Dobben hobbled off the ice at the end of the third and didn’t return. No word on the seriousness of his injury.
FIRST PERIOD Scoring: 1. Windsor, Thorburn 10 (unassisted) 5:34 sh. 2. Lakehead, Dias 1 (penalty shot) 6:01 pp. 3. Lakehead, Guilbault 9 (Soares, Anilane) 12:57. 4. Windsor McCready 6 (Tront, Ferry) 15:04 pp. 5. Lakehead, Dias 2 (Caria) 17:10. Penalties: Crouch WIN (holding) 0:54, McDonald LAK (tirpping) 3:03, Lang WIN (hooking) 5:18, Smith LAK (high sticking) 14:40.
A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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